Tallahassee – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman awarded three Floridians with the Champion of Service Award, Florida’s statewide volunteer award.

Governor Scott said, “From volunteering in disaster recovery to selflessly serving Florida seniors and those with special needs, I am proud to honor three Floridians today for their service. They have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to our communities and work to keep Florida the best state to live, work and raise a family.”

Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “As we mark the beginning of Hurricane Season in Florida, we are especially grateful for our volunteers who serve before, during, and after disasters. The three volunteers we recognize today embody the selfless service to others—particularly our most vulnerable neighbors—that makes Florida a one-of-a-kind place to call home.”

Mari Terbrueggen – Mari Terbrueggen founded the Senior Life Foundation (SLF) in 2000 to serve seniors living below the poverty line who lacked immediate response to emergency situations. The Senior Life Foundation created an Emergency Help Line to meet the urgent needs of low-income seniors in Duval County within 24-48 hours and to help them live independently. SLF provides support for seniors who need immediate help to pay for housing, life-sustaining prescriptions, and help with utility bills. SLF also provides assistance to seniors with chronic diseases and disabilities so that they can get the medical assistance they need. Since 2000, SLF has helped more than 5,000 low-income seniors and provided over $1,000,000 in direct assistance. Because of Mari’s vision and leadership, SLF has established itself as a premier provider of effective and efficient services in the county’s aging network. SLF is a nationally recognized nonprofit staffed by eight volunteer board members and six volunteer customer specialists.

Alexis Butt – Alexis Butt is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University. As an FGCU Ambassador, she focuses on elderly care and children with special needs.  She recently planned an event at FGCU that brought together 150 residents with unique abilities and 200 volunteers for a day of camaraderie and outdoor activities. She also planned a prom event this Spring for those with special needs, working in partnership with the Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled.  Alexis connects FGCU students with members of the community, such as making cards for the elderly and delivering them to retirement homes to celebrate Grandparents Day.

Thomas Maher – Thomas Maher, 77 years old, has volunteered with the Emergency Disaster Services division of The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command for 15 years. He has volunteered in the distribution warehouse, which houses supplies, food and other items donated to those impacted by natural disasters. Following Hurricane Katrina, Tom deployed to affected areas for over two months to assist with disaster recovery, including transporting food and supplies to families in need. Tom is also active with the Angel Tree Christmas program, organizing the distribution of donated gifts to needy children.

The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts. For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, click here.